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In 1988, when teacher Michael Rosenthal was a little boy, his 20-year-old brother was killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. He wanted to find a good way to commemorate Daniel, who was studying to be a teacher at Oxford in England.
In 2004, Alison Cain had been teaching for five years and was facing an abbreviated lifespan when the organs she needed suddenly became available. She rejoiced. After a double lung transplant, she learned about the kind of person her donor had been. Cain wished to commemorate the young woman, who became a donor after learning she didn’t have much time left.
The two teachers, colleagues at Mathematics, Science Research and Technology Magnet HS in Cambria Heights, Queens, have established scholarships in honor of their heroes.
“I’m from a family of teachers, so you could say my brother Daniel was in the family business. He was on the way home for Christmas break when he was killed,” said Rosenthal, who teaches social studies.
Every year, at the school’s graduation ceremonies, which this year took place on June 25, he presents the Daniel P. Rosenthal Memorial Scholarship Award to a deserving student who plans to be a teacher or study abroad.
Sharing the spotlight is the winner of the Humanitarian Award, presented by Cain.
She had received the phone call about the transplant during work at the school where she was teaching at the time.
“The students were amazingly kind to me,” said Cain, who teaches Spanish.
There was also the great kindness coming her way from a stranger whose death gave Cain life.
“Six months after the surgery I got a letter from the donor’s family telling me she was a person who always went above and beyond to give of herself,” she said.
So Cain created a scholarship for a student “who has gone above and beyond to be kind to others and to be a good citizen in the school community,” she added.
Rosenthal, who recently transferred to Progress HS for Professional Careers in Brooklyn, will now present his annual scholarship at that school.
What is your favorite movie about a teacher?
Dead Poets Society
Stand and Deliver
Mr. Holland's Opus
Total votes: 703